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Witness drops out of doctor's molest case

June 24, 2009 at 4:18 PM

SAN MATEO, Calif., June 24 (UPI) -- A prosecutor said a key witness in the child-molestation case against a California psychiatrist couldn't go through with testifying in court.

The unidentified man's decision to back out of the trial reduced the number of counts against Dr. William Ayers from 20 to 10, which could still land the 77-year-old child psychiatrist in prison for 20 years if he is convicted.

"These are really emotional, difficult cases to go through, and he just doesn't feel he can go through with it," Assistant San Mateo County District Attorney Karen Guidotti said outside the courtroom Tuesday.

Ayers was charged with molesting seven former patients after a police investigation produced more than two dozen males who alleged he had molested them while performing supposed physical examinations.

The Bay Area News Group said Wednesday the prosecution told the jury the exams consisted exclusively of fondling and that physicals were not a standard procedure for psychiatrists.

Ayers' attorney said in opening statements his client's intentions were misinterpreted and warned jurors that testimony from the victims would likely be exaggerated or changed in order to better support the allegations.

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